Australia v England
Bankstown Oval, Sydney : 22nd – 25th February 2003
If Lucy Pearson had been a handful at the Gabba, she was even more hostile at Bankstown Oval for the second Test. Clare Connor won the toss for England and sent Australia in to bat on a wet track that might not have seen play get underway at all.
“It was a very wet ground and there was a lot of talk of not being able to get on. The ground staff did everything in their power and we got on.” – Belinda Clark
“I think it was a case of not being switched on due to the uncertainty around the start. Lucy was tall, left handed and ungainly. When she got it right she was unplayable and when she got it wrong it was time for runs. This day she got it right.” – Clark
Mel Jones stood tall with a fighting half century and was provided with good support from the youngsters, Lisa Sthalekar and Alex Blackwell, who while they only scored 18 and 13 respectively, batted grimly, trying to steady the ship. It wasn’t attractive strokeplay, but it helped in easing the damage. Sthalekar lasted 99 balls and Blackwell 47. When Pearson removed them all, the Australian innings had collapsed for just 134. The left arm quick had taken an outstanding career best 7-51.Embed from Getty Images
It didn’t take much to get Cathryn Fitzpatrick fired up. She’d made 18 valuable runs with the bat and upon taking the new ball, immediately accounted for Sarah Collyer, caught behind by Julia Price for a duck in the first over. Charlotte Edwards and Kathryn Leng stuck to the crease like limpets, in much the way a couple of the Aussies batted. It was slow going with every run a precious commodity.
When Sthalekar had Leng run out for 21, the rot then began to set in for England. Edwards went for 40, and Thompson followed straight after. An 84 run partnership between Lydia Greenway and Claire Taylor rescued England, but when those two left the scene, the England tail fell away in much the same way as Australia’s had done. It was the sort of wicket that required intense concentration. England finished with 187, which constituted a precious 53 run lead.
There seemed to be no stopping Pearson. Batting at number 11, she scored a first ball duck, LBW to Hayes. Was she keen to get the ball back in her hands perhaps? Lethal Lucy removed openers Britt and Clark, and first innings savior Mel Jones, while Newton accounted for Rolton. Australia were 4/49, still three runs in arrears, when the two newcomers came to the crease. Showing rock solid defence, and maturity beyond their years, captialising on anything loose, Sthalekar and Blackwell guided Australia to stumps, a far healthier 4/164. Not out of the woods but certainly better off than when they came to the crease.
Blackwell was Pearson’s fourth wicket when she was bowled for 58, with 6 fours over a 226 minute stay. It would not be the last time this cricketer saved Australia’s bacon. The pair put on a 136 run partnership.
“Creating a record partnership with my good mate Lisa to help dig Australia out from a losing position remains to be one of my proudest moments.” – BlackwellEmbed from Getty Images
At the other end, a masterclass from Lisa Sthalekar, who scored 120 not out. It was a vigil of 364 minutes and a sign of things to come for the 23 year old.
“Both very good players who went on to play increasingly important roles in the team over the next decade.” – Clark
That Sthalekar remained not out is in part due to her captain, Belinda Clark. The Australian skipper, ever anxious to manufacture a result, declared Australia’s innings at 7/259, setting England the intriguing target of 207 to score in 83 overs. As it turned out, England were lucky to escape with a draw, finishing the Test 6/133. Claire Taylor and the tail stood between Australia and victory after Edwards had scored 67. Australia won the series 1-0 and thus Clark’s second consecutive Ashes series victory.
Australia 134 (Jones 58, Pearson 7-51, Leng 2-5) and 7 decl 259 (Sthalekar 120*, Blackwell 58, Pearson 4-56) drew with England 187 (Taylor 48, Edwards 40, Twining 3-32) and 6/133 (Edwards 67, Fitzpatrick 4-56)